The South African Senior Women’s National Team, Banyana Banyana, has nicely settled at their base camp in Waalwijk, The Netherlands.

The South African Senior Women’s National Team, Banyana Banyana, has nicely settled at their base camp in Waalwijk, The Netherlands.

Waalwijk is a municipality and a city in the south of Netherlands. It had a population of 46, 495 in 2014.

Banyana Banyana arrived in the area on Tuesday, 30 June to start preparations for two international friendly matches against the host nation on Saturday, 4 June and Tuesday, 7 June.

Kickoff times for both clashes will be 15h00 and 19h00 respectively at the Mandemakers Stadium.

The encounters against Holland come at a time when the Sasol-sponsored Banyana Banyana has to trim down the squad to 22 players required for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.

Defender Lebohang Mabatle is one of those hoping to make the final team.

“I am proud to be here with Banyana Banyana especially at such a crucial time as we head into the Olympics. Being here with the other players gives us a chance to get to know each other more, and we are also fortunate that we will be playing against a tough opponent like Holland which will help us fine tune our preparations – we could not have asked for anything better,” said Mabatle.

“We are coming here to test ourselves against one of the best in the world. The good thing is that competition among the players is strong, which is what we need to make the team better. We are not making it any easy for the coach to pick her final squad as we are all doing our best to get the nod.”

Fellow defender Bambanani Mbane, like Mabatle, has never been to the Olympics and would like nothing more than to be at the world sports showpiece.

“It’s a tough one for the coaches to choose the final team because we are well prepared and doing all we can to show our intentions of going to Rio,” said Mbane.

“As for the match against Holland, it is a very important one for our preparations as it will be a chance for us to show exactly where we are as a team. We are the underdogs, but we have worked hard to ensure that we are well prepared for this match.”

Midfielder Stephanie Malherbe is also excited about being part of the team. Having lived all her life in the United States, where she is still studying, she is honoured to be part of the provisional South Africa squad.

“I am so excited as this is my first time being in Europe. Also to be part of this amazing team leaves me ecstatic, as I will learn what European football is all about. My aim is to make the Olympic team and represent South Africa in Rio – that for me will be a dream come true,” said Malherbe.

“As for these two upcoming matches here in Holland, I am willing to contribute in any way possible to help the team do well – whether I am on the bench of or on the field. But I am positive we will do well because we have a very good squad of players, most of them with a wealth of experience.”

Banyana Banyana have already held two training sessions in Waalwijk (on Tuesday and Wednesday), and will follow up with two more on Thursday and Friday before tackling the home side at the weekend (Saturday).